Josh Barnett On UFC 254, Bellator 241 Forced Wthdrawal, More

Josh Barnett

Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett has experienced it all during his long, storied career in mixed martial arts.

Now, Barnett continues to look for avenues at which to compete in, which has brought him to Poland for a bare-knuckle match.

Hear more from Barnett on his upcoming bout, UFC 254 predictions, forced withdrawal from Bellator 241 and more in a recent interview with Submission Radio.

Why he’s fighting in bare-knuckle boxing in Poland at Genesis 1

“Availability. Because when we booked this thing, no one was doing events but the UFC. And so I was looking abroad to find a place I can go and get in the ring where they have opened up enough, and that brought me to my connections in Poland. It’s always just how it used to be, just how I started out, except with no head butts and no grappling in this one. But to hell with it, right? It will work out.”

Why his fight at Bellator 241 didn’t happen

“It’s complicated, but the simple aspect of it was that everything, it all seemed on the up and up. We were obviously in communication for months leading into it, and I had immediately had my manager get on the horn to Scott Coker to rebook the fight and see if it’s possible. I felt terrible for Ronny and Ray his coach, and I felt terrible for all the fans, and I was obviously incredibly unhappy with going through a full fight camp, feeling good, and then having that opportunity torn away from me after having to sit on the sidelines for three years for something that was beyond a shadow of a doubt not my fault, and fighting through every inch of all that BS, only to then still not be able to get in the ring, only to then, what, two weeks out or something like that – I don’t know who’s decision it was, but they basically just changed their mind, and that was that.”

“Someone in the commission, somebody made a decision, like, an overriding decision and said no. And so it’s like okay, well, there you go. It is the issue that when you deal with Athletic Commissions, it’s always steeped in discretion. Their discretion. So, they can do what they want. They can give it, they can take it away. They can change their mind. There’s no, you can’t be like, ‘well no, you passed the statute of limitations’. And in some cases I understand why. This is not an exact science, somebody’s body, or things involved with what’s necessary, or at least what they consider necessary to get in the ring. So, low and behold, that happened. Which completely torpedoed another opportunity to get in the ring.”

“The kicker to it all, regardless of what happened with me, the whole thing got cancelled because of the pandemic anyways. So, when you sit back and think, oh, is the universe conspiring against me? It’s like, there was legitimately no way that I was gonna get that fight, and it’s just, it was devastating.”

If the issue with the commission will happen again if he tries to fight in Bellator again

“I don’t think so. And also, every commission is different.”

“With the Mohegan Sun, it was their decision. So, do I think it’s going to be a problem in the future? No, not necessarily. But what they say is, whatever happens in life, you have to learn from it. And that means, that’s not just about the things that happen in the negative that don’t work out your way, but things that work out in the positive, which is often the place we neglect to look backwards and see, well, why didn’t it work in my favour? It’s not necessarily guaranteed. So, we should see what were the paths and process to success, as well as, okay, it was a success, but could it have been a bigger success? I think we’re fairly familiar with what we’re dealing with here, so I don’t envision for it to be much of an issue.”

On elbows also being allowed in his bare knuckle fight against Marcin Rozalski

“It is my wheel house. But, I mean, hopefully all the blood’s his. But knowing how bare knuckle boxing is, there’s a very small percentage that it’s gonna work out that way. I also can add that there is limited clinching. So, you can dirty box in this event too.”

On his only two targets in Bellator being fighting Fedor and getting a title shot

“My only two targets essentially in Bellator, and no disrespect to Ronny Marks at all, is the title or Fedor. And beyond that, you know, everything else I have to navigate in a different space. But those are the two things. That’s what I signed up for, that’s all I want.”

On the Fedor fight being more important than the title fight

“The Fedor fight. To be able to get in the ring with my friend while there’s still an opportunity to do so, to face one of the greatest heavyweights of all time for sure, and put it on the line, see the two of us finally get a chance to lock horns. And that’s not to say anything against the Bellator title, cause I would love to add another prestigious title belt to my collection, but the title is only as worthwhile as the man that holds it. Yeah, I guess [I’d rather] have Fedor fight for the title, win, and then I fight him. You can’t ask for anything better than that.”

On DC/Stipe and the UFC heavyweight division

Stipe looked fantastic in the rematch. Actually, far better than he’s looked in his first victory. I thought the first fight between the two of them kind of turned into a shit show. And I mean that in regards to knowing both fighters and how skilful they are and how, you know, fight IQ went out the window. They just got incredibly sloppy from their technical capabilities and from watching their earlier fights, and it was just interesting that it just degraded in such a way and it just became a mindless guts fest in terms of who was tougher. And out of nowhere Stipe just changed things up, went to his liver, and then Cormier was just unable to make any adjustment whatsoever, and then Stipe put him away. Well, alright. And then the next fight, completely different story. More of their true capabilities as far as their full potential, all skillsets put on the line. And I mean, I can’t speak for Cormier as far as I’m not training him, I’m not his coach, but he did not really employ much of a game plan built around his strengths. And he was dominating the fight first round. Stipe couldn’t get off his back, he just kept chopping his leg and taking him down. And then he just threw the whole game plan away in fight number two. Which then degraded to sort of a brainless slugfest that it turned into. Come fight three, I figured, well, if Cormier goes back to his camp and goes, okay, well, we’re gonna stick to a game plan, we’re gonna force him into areas that he wasn’t as successful. And I mean, Cormier was untouchable in that first round against Stipe in that second fight, and he just didn’t execute it. And so there could be a lot of reasons for that, and he’s getting up in age. And when you look at age for Cormier, you have to consider his Olympic and amateur wrestling career. That takes a lot out of the body. A huge toll on the body. Especially with the years of weight cutting on him too. So, you know, his athletic lifespan has seen a lot of generations already from the work it’s been through, and Stipe looked great too.”

Khabib/Gaethje preview

“He finds a way to keep them pinned and keep riding them, and as he rides them, he pins them down, fatigues them and continues to keep scoring. He’s got stand-up, and obviously great ground and pound. But in his stand-up, he has a tendency to, if the threat of the takedown isn’t enough to keep the opponent off balance, he takes some pretty flush shots. And that’s Gaethje’s thing. McGregor is a one-punch knockout guy potentially too, but I don’t think he’s got the one-punch power like Gaethje does. And if Gaethje can land that shot, it will really give issues to Khabib. But it really comes down to the early fight. It’s gonna be Gaethje his chance of winning. But as the fight goes long, I just don’t see it going any way but Khabib’s.”

If Gaethje’s Division-1 wrestling will come into play

“Oh, for sure. But he’s not gonna go out there and start wrestling, he’s going to go out there and try to murder him with his hands. And when you’re doing that, you’re not in a wrestling position, you’re not settled and set to be a wrestler. And maybe he’s changed up the way his camp has been structured and put more emphasis on it. I would happen to think that he does, but I would also say you wouldn’t want to take him away from what he’s good at.”

His prediction for his bare-knuckle fight with Marcin Rozalski

“Blood and glory, that’s about it. It’s three, three-minute rounds. So, it’s gonna be a sprint. I’m not sure if either one of us is going to go down in this fight, but we’re definitely gonna be bleeding. I think the difference is going to be, one, if it gets into the dirty boxing element. I’m not gonna be beat in that space, and I would happen to think that he’s not gonna be training or he wasn’t planning to make it this much of a clinch fight. But the other thing is, I just think I have plain better and faster hands. So, it’s about hitting and not getting hit as much as possible. But we’ll see how it goes when this guy is lining up his big right hook.”

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